What I am talking about is the type of guy who drives to a nightclub, so he could take a pair of dumbbells in the boot of his car. Just like a leaking tire he must keep pumping to maintain his size. Don’t be this guy!
I know there a lot of you out there, so I know I have got your attention. Listen and learn. You will get bigger, stronger and save money. Sounds to good to be true?
The reason I am writing this article is because we never really did drop sets back in the former USSR. It wasn’t till I got to Australia that I heard people constantly refer to this mystical training method. They were making expensive gym equipment purchases based on this so-called silver bullet for muscle growth.
According to the formal BroScience, drop sets will get you an INSANE pump in your muscles. This fosters the necessary conditions for SICK GAINZ.
If this was the case, why weren’t we aware of such methods behind the Iron Curtain?
So where did these secrets to muscle growth get developed?
After spending time in both Western & Soviet Bloc gyms, the strength cultures are vastly different.
In the US, Australia and NATO countries, bodybuilding has been the dominant influence. Thankfully that has been balanced lately by the rise of CrossFit and Power Lifting.
In the former USSR we were more influenced by powerlifting, strongmen and weightlifting. The manly strength sports. These were the main choices in any gym.
Perhaps because our short summers and long, rough winters did not leave us much time to show off our hard earned gainz.
On the other hand, down at Venice beach, shirts were optional for most of the year.
The American bodybuilding propaganda from Venice Beach – like drop sets - did not make it through the Iron Curtain. If drop sets really worked the Soviet Scientist would have discovered such protocols in pursuit of OLYMPIC glory. Note I have emphasized Olympic, whereas the Americans were more concerned with Mr Olympia.
There is no doubt the American bodybuilders in the 60s, 70s & 80s made amazing progress in building muscle and strength. But how much of it was due to drop sets?
After lengthy research I made up a scientific pie chart breakdown of how the Golden Era bodybuilders were able to amass such glorious gainz.
All jokes aside, these golden era guys dedicated their lives to bodybuilding. They had coaches, access to special bodybuilding equipment, medicines, loads of food, but most importantly they had time. Prior to this period there was limited knowledge (training, nutrition, pharmacological), equipment and people. There simply weren’t a lot of people training with weights.
The golden era experienced an explosion in popularity of bodybuilding. More people equal greater chance of genetic freaks taking up the sport, like Arnold.
These guys would have grown with or without drop sets.
Are drop sets useful?
I have been a competitive powerlifter for close to 9 years. I have been training and competing with world-class athletes. The only people who recommended me drop sets, was the gym bros. “Because it gives you a mad pump cuz.”
Yes, this training protocol will increase blood in the muscle and tear muscle fibers. The muscle will be temporarily bigger with the corresponding blood flow. The question is, will the muscle fibers be more stimulated from this training method or is there something more effective?
When determining effectiveness, you must ask yourself your training goals. Do you want to get bigger and stronger? Or do you want to look good posing in the mirror 15 minutes after you train?
Keep it Simple, Strict & Heavy!
In the USSR we were taught the basics, no matter what your age or experience. If you want to get bigger and stronger try to lift heavier weight – WITH CORRECT FORM.
You will not get bigger and stronger by lifting light weight many times. Sure, it is ok to add some volume work into your program from time to time – it is a great way to mix things up and even I have to admit getting a pump is exhilarating.
In my gym we could not do dumbbell drop sets even if we wanted too! As you can see from the photos, we did not have a lot of dumbbells. The dumbbells we did have were falling apart.
Some had removable ends that you could add weight. So, before you used them you had to make sure they were not loose. A gym bro would quickly lose not only their pump, but also their cool!
I might also add that the heaviest dumbbell was 32kgs. According to the “experts” this is not nearly enough to get stronger.
The truth is that average guys in our gym could bench press 165kgs. In Australia you would win competitions with this number.
Supersets – Get a Pump and Get Stronger!
If you must go and chase a pump, at least do it the right way. Have you ever tried supersets? Rather than isolating one muscle head or muscle group, you would work through a range of them.
Supersets are a combination of two of three exercises, targeting the same or opposing muscle group. They are performed without rest in between the exercises.
Some examples of supersets with opposing muscle groups would be:
- Incline Dumbbell Press and Lat Pulldowns
- Barbell Bench Press and Seated Row
- Bicep Curls and Tricep Pressdowns.
For the same muscle groups, try doing:
- Barbell Bench Press and Dumbbell Flys
- Flys and Dips.
- Chin Ups and Lat Pulldowns
- Bicep Curls and Hammer Curls
Drop the Drop Sets and Save Money
Now we have sorted fact from fiction, by eliminating such nonsense from your workout, you can save some serious money if you are setting up a home gym.
Using the Barbarian Smith Cable Rack as an example, many customers steer towards the Weight Stack version of the Barbarian Smith Cable Rack. With the core reason being drop sets.
To be honest the plate loaded version is just as good if not better. The Cable Crossover weight stack is limited to 55 kgs per side, which is more than enough for all isolation exercises.
However, you can load the plate loaded version up to 150kgs. Now I am not suggesting this will allow you to do 150kgs tricep pressdowns, but what it does do is allow you to use the upright pulley as a lat pulldown.
It is not perfect, but gets the job done. Most importantly it will save you a lot of money and space in your gym.
The same can be said about Ironmaster Dumbbells. It works better for us if you buy an expensive set of fixed dumbbells. But our aim is to give you the most effective gym for the best possible price. That way you will either buy more or refer us to your friends.
With the money you save, you can put it toward buying more weight plates down the track as you get bigger and stronger the smart way.